Monday, December 14, 2009

Waterstones admits that content is not high on their list - yes that would mean good writing.

Waterstones have finally admitted at a seminar held to reassure agents about the functioning of their distribution hub, what we as authors have known for some time - that the quality of the writing is not one of four key considerations when the chain chooses to order or stock a book. This is not news as far as I, and most other authors are no doubt concerned, yet the agents reacted with shock and horror when the chain admitted their stance.

Sixty people attended the seminar, held at the retailers flagship Piccadilly store, which included a hub update and an introduction to the new buying team.

The four key considerations were revealed as being, track record (i.e. previous or projected sales history), support from the publisher, market context and pricing/cover. Around half of those in the room put up their hands and asked the obvious question, "What about the writing?'" What indeed you might say.


Anonymous said...

Those four criteria were introduced as just four things a buyer would consider when making a decision. Of course content is considered, but saying as much in front of professionals would surely have been a little patronising? Also, 'how good is the content is difficult' to objectify. Is the content of Martine McCutcheon's book 'good'? Probably not in the eyes of most of the people in the room (apart from her agent), but if tens of thousands of people want to buy it and read it, then who are Waterstone's to stop them.

By the time a book reaches a book chain's buyers, it has already been through some quality filters. An agent decides if a book is 'good' when he or she decides to sign the author or say goodbye. A publisher decides if a book is 'good' when they accept or reject a title. What are they thinking about when they make those decisions? Only one thing - will this sell? If the answer is yes, then they'll buy it.

Col Bury said...

Hi June.

And there was me trying to get every word right!

Interesting stuff.